It has received A$12.5m ($8.6m) funding in total, which includes A$3.7m ($2.5m) from the Australian government
Funding for a new national mining research and training centre in Australia has opened up a “unique opportunity” for the country to “master” emerging technology in the industry, says a professor.
The facility, named as the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Integrated Operations for Complex Resources, has received A$12.5m ($8.6m) funding in total, which includes 3.7m Australian dollars ($2.5m) from the Australian government.
Based at the University of Adelaide, it will help to deliver tools and train the next generation of scientists and engineers in advanced sensors, data analytics and artificial intelligence.
Speaking to data and analytics firm GlobalData, Peter Dowd, professor of mining engineering at the university’s school of civil, environmental and mining engineering, said he believes the centre will help shape the future of Australia’s mining operations.
“The unique opportunity that Australia has is to master the industrial internet of things in mining,” he added.
“It has the competitive advantages of the value and complexity of its mineral resources and of the high-level capability embedded in its mining equipment, technology and services, and in its resource companies.”
The opportunity created for Australia by new mining research and training centre
Emerging technologies in automation and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly popular within the mining sector, with a number of major companies looking to increase production, cut costs and improve safety.
But despite the ongoing technological boom, some firms are still unsure on exactly how to incorporate these technologies into their systems and processes.
That is where the University of Adelaide’s new research centre is looking to help, as it aims to ensure the sector is prepared for any future trends.
Prof Dowd said: “The training centre will deliver the enabling tools – advanced sensors, data analytics and artificial intelligence – for automated, integrated and optimised mining.
“Automating a mine requires all stages of the mining and processing system to be integrated so that intelligence across the value chain can be automatically generated, delivered and exploited.
“The mining industry must be able to make real-time decisions if it is to apply the correct and most cost-effective parameters, or processes, at any point in the value chain and avoid the use of costly processes when they are not needed.
“Ubiquitous sensors, data analytics and artificial intelligence will bring step-change increases in productivity, based on network connectivity and high-speed computation in the Industrial Internet of Things.”
Aims of Australia’s mining research centre and when benefits will be realised
The university has laid out three main targets that it hopes the mining research and training centre will provide. It aims to:
• Help enable the mining industry to make real-time decisions and apply the correct and most cost-effective parameters or processes at any point in the mining supply chain, avoiding costly unnecessary processes
• Bring step-change increases in productivity via network connectivity and high-speed computation
• Focus on maximising value by optimising productivity and product quality, the outcome of which has the greatest potential to deliver the largest economic gains.
Prof Dowd said the training centre will operate over the period between 2020 and 2023, and he highlighted when the benefits of the project are likely to be fully realised.
“We expect significant benefits to be realised throughout the 2020-2023 period, and thereafter, as the research delivers against each of the objectives and the translation partners develop the outcomes into industry-ready products and, in appropriate cases, commercialise outcomes,” he added.
“The use of embedded and connected sensors together with real-time analysis of sensed data can also be applied to safety, environmental monitoring and control, and many other areas in mining operations.”
Prof Dowd noted there is another complementary project to aid production in the sector, Unlocking Complex Resources through Lean Processing, which started last year and is partly funded by partners of the University of Adelaide.
It is a research consortium that is also funded by the state of South Australia through the Premier’s Research and Industry Fund (PRIF) research consortia programme for the period from 2018 to 2021.
The scheme aims to develop advanced technologies to boost South Australia’s copper production and ensure the state has a globally competitive mining technology services sector.